A Promise to a Life of Action

I need to get back in the habit of writing. The idea of having this site is two-fold: one, it’s a way for me to continue my column from the Renegade Rip as I have timed out my time in the class (the KCCD deemed that it was inappropriate to repeat courses for funsies); and two, because I want to be a writer more than anything and most literary agents, I have read, want the author to already have some sort of platform built. The second one annoys me, but it’s all in an effort to play the game and I refuse to do self-publishing. I don’t mean to insult anyone who has gone that route, I just know that I am a lazy self-promoter (at best) and peddling my own wares (which I paid for) is not in my wheel-house.

There is also a third thing, but it has more weight and can’t really be lumped in with the other two. (The reason why has escaped me. Maybe it’s because I miscalculated my reasons and instead am sticking to my guns refusing to re-write.) The thing that keeps me coming back is because this bitch has to write.

I don’t know what it is but I have to put my words out there. Whether it be a story or my own personal thoughts doesn’t matter. As long as I am putting my mental musings into the world I am happy. I find excitement and worth. To not do such things leaves me feeling jaded. I suppose it’s my own form of therapy.

What is strange about this notion is that while I know how much I love it and truly do enjoy the task more than eating French fries (and this bitch loves him some French fries) I make all the excuses in the world to not put pen to paper. Or in this case, fingertips to keys. I say, I’m too busy, or that my husband would be upset if I stowed away into the office to write. Sometimes it’s just that I am tired and don’t want to. But, not writing kills me and, also, not doing it keeps me rooted to the spot. (In both my life ambition and self-care.)

That is why I have chosen to promise myself, and to the select few that traverse this site, to deliver some sort of content on every Friday. There is no excuse for me not to do it, truly. I have the wordpress app on my phone and can even write a tiny blurb on the run. I just don’t want to continue this life of nothingness, where all I do is work and sleep and work and sleep. I get nowhere and do nothing. I want to live. And living involves action.

I was reminded of this fact the other day when a friend of mine, a mentor, quoted one of my most favorite movies to me. “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” It’s one of the most quotable lines from the Shawshank Redemption. (Which is easily one of my top 5 films.) In the past I never paid it any mind because I only took it into the context of the film, where Andy has had enough of his prison life. With it taken out of the scene and just read to me, and forgetting where, how and why it was said, it’s really some great advice for life. Life is meant to be lived, however that may be. For me it’s a need to be heard, to be understood. It drives me and pushes me to a reality I long for.

So stay tuned. I don’t know what I will write, I just know that it will be something, and I will try to make it my best. Maybe one day something will come of it, and maybe something won’t. But the only terrible thing I could imagine is looking back on a long life and feeling as though I have not lived.

P.S.
As of late, I have returned to the first draft of my first completed manuscript to start the process of spit and polish. I am trying to stay strong as I sit there and attempt to pick it apart, because after all it is a FIRST DRAFT and is filled with holes, splinters, and rough edges. For a short while I wasn’t sure that it would be this particular manuscript to pick back-up, but seeing as how it has a gay protagonist in a real world fantasy realm, and I did win an award for my column about gay life, it only seems right to begin here.

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Five Simple Rules

In typical pattern, as winter slowly changes into spring I myself am going through my own transition.  It may be because I have grown-up some, being almost thirty, or I am just longing for a purpose.  Right now, I lack any real directive.  Instead, I waste my time on events and relationships that go absolutely nowhere.  I want to be established.  I want to have a career.  I want a goal!

The other day I had decided to delve further into my novel.  I want it to submerge me.  When I was younger I’d become so engrossed in my own creativity that nothing else mattered.  That is the place I long to return too.  Maybe then it will inspire a goal.

I made the decision to post one of my novels on Watt Pad and see what kind of response it gets.  And because I am a perfectionist I have been going through and revising it to be viewable by another pair of eyes besides my own.  Although, I am questioning whether I want to post my novel there since my niece informed me last night that plagiarism is a huge problem on the website and creates a good amount of drama.  That makes me uneasy, as I am already paranoid about people stealing my work that is not accessible for the whole world to see.  I go so far as to shred any page of my book I print out and no longer need.  Yet even with that fear, I find myself driven to create a “platform.”

“Platform” is the buzzword I keep running across in blogs, articles, or books about writing and getting agents.  Literary agents want the writer to have done most of the legwork building an audience through social media or blog posts.  That is a lot of pressure.  While it is not mandatory, it is preferred.  Therein lays my desire to publish my novel online.  (Well, that and I am looking for validation.)

Being an artist is tough.  Until one’s art is complete, he must live inside his own head and judge his talent on his own.  There is a lot of doubt and fear that comes with that kind of responsibility.  I think that may be why so many people never finish what they start.  The inner critic just kills any beauty that may blossom from one’s creative mind.  In an effort to combat that, I have created my own rules of writing.

1 – Throw all the paint on the canvas as quick as you can.

2 – Take your time editing and refining the details.

3 – Trust your gut!

4 – Don’t take criticism personally.

5 – Always finish what you start.

Ambition Drought

A Year of Writing Prompts by Brian A. Klems & Zachary Petit
January 6
I will consider myself successful when…
“Finish this sentence: As a writer, I will consider myself successful when…”

This very questions has crossed my mind so many times over the years. When I was younger I used to think that I will be successful when I have a New York Time No. 1 bestseller. When you dream, you’re supposed to go big, right? No? Well, as time has gone on I’ve discovered how hard it is to just finish a novel. When I say finish I mean a first draft, followed by edit after edits, and with some final spit and polish. This thing should fucking gleam in the sunlight. That way when the agent opens it to read my manuscript they’re immediately blinded and I become their only client.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo a couple years. Only the first though did I actually try and succeed. I even spilled into December and finished it on the 6th. I was so very proud of myself. Now I’ve been pouring over it ever since. I finished that one at the tail end of 2009. Or maybe it was 2010… Regardless I have spent entirely too much time pondering the plot lines and if it’s good enough that I have written myself into a corner and fear taking a step out of it. I imagine that has happened to so many before me. I’m sure it’s what keeps others from even attempting at all. That’s just the nature of the beast and some artists are just not well equipped to handle the pressure that comes with trying to make a business out of their art.

At one time I thought success would be to get a book published. Then I lowered that bar to getting and agent… And at some point I settled for just finishing my book.

The infuriating thing is that I know I can do it. I can finish my book and submit it to agents. There is no doubt in my mind. I have the capability and drive to get me there. It’s just my inner critic, my doubt, my fear, that keeps me stationary.

Once a polished manuscript sits in my hands, only then, will I consider myself successful. It means I have pushed through my worst obstacle, myself.

Every journey… small step… you know the drill

It’s been three days since I first stated that I would begin working on a chapter at a time on my lunch break, and already I have completed my revisions of chapter one.  Now, that’s not anything amazing because prior to this assignment I had edited the shit out of it.  This is just another once over. 

I took some advice and printed out the entire chapter and began with reading it over and marking my edits.  And though I had my doubts that seeing it on paper would be any different than seeing it on a screen I was proven wrong, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  It’s almost like I have two very different personalities while looking at a screen and looking at a printed document.  While at a computer I am the writer, splashing my thoughts into text and seeing where my images take me.  But looking at it in black and white on a crisp sheet of paper I was Mr. Critique and approached my project with the same attitude I give to anyone who happens to hand me their work and wants notes.  I was harsh but fair all at the same.

After finishing up with my handy pen work (I have to note that it looked like I took a razor blade to my paper and it was bleeding) I spent my lunch entering my changes. The feeling of accomplishment is truly surprising.  I’ve only finished one chapter, but the fact that I stuck to it and achieved my goal is where my pride resides. 

On to chapter two!